Leonid Chernomordik, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Membrane Biology





Research Topics

Membrane Fusion Mediated by Protein Fusogens

Disparate membrane remodeling reactions are tightly controlled by protein machinery but are also dependent on the lipid composition of the membranes. Whereas each kind of protein has its own individual personality, membrane lipid bilayers have rather general properties manifested by their resistance to disruption and bending. Our long-term goal is to understand how proteins remodel membrane lipid bilayers in important cell biology processes. The starting point of our analysis is a consideration of the physical factors that determine the tendency of the membrane bilayers to change their topology. We expect that the analysis of the molecular mechanisms of important and diverse membrane rearrangements will bring about new ways of controlling them and clarify the generality of emerging mechanistic insights. In recent studies we have focused on mechanisms of influenza hemagglutinin–mediated fusion and late stages of cell-to-cell fusion.


Dr. Leonid Chernomordik was awarded a Ph.D. in 1979 from the Frumkin Institute of Electrochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences and a Doctor of Sciences in 1991 from Moscow State University; the latter is the highest academic status degree in Russia, roughly equivalent to a full professorship. In 1991, after 15 years of research in the Frumkin Institute of Electrochemistry, Dr. Chernomordik joined NICHD, where he leads the Section on Membrane Biology. Dr. Chernomordik’s area of speciality is biomembrane structure and cell function and work at the intersection of cell biology, virology and biophysics. His laboratory’s work on membrane fusion has identified the conserved pathway of membrane remodeling that underlies fundamental processes as diverse and important as viral infections, exocytosis and fertilization. Current work of the Section of Membrane Biology concentrates on mechanisms by which enveloped viruses enter cells and on cell to cell fusion in development. The hope is that identification of the molecular mechanisms of membrane remodeling will help in developing new ways of controlling cell fusion and intracellular fusion throughout normal development of many human organs and tissues and in many genetic and infectious diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Zaitseva E, Yang ST, Melikov K, Pourmal S, Chernomordik LV. Dengue virus ensures its fusion in late endosomes using compartment-specific lipids. PLoS Pathog. 2010;6(10):e1001131.
  2. Chen A, Leikina E, Melikov K, Podbilewicz B, Kozlov MM, Chernomordik LV. Fusion-pore expansion during syncytium formation is restricted by an actin network. J Cell Sci. 2008;121(Pt 21):3619-28.
  3. Richard JP, Melikov K, Vives E, Ramos C, Verbeure B, Gait MJ, Chernomordik LV, Lebleu B. Cell-penetrating peptides. A reevaluation of the mechanism of cellular uptake. J Biol Chem. 2003;278(1):585-90.
  4. Chernomordik LV, Kozlov MM. Membrane hemifusion: crossing a chasm in two leaps. Cell. 2005;123(3):375-82.
  5. Zaitseva E, Zaitsev E, Melikov K, Arakelyan A, Marin M, Villasmil R, Margolis LB, Melikyan GB, Chernomordik LV. Fusion Stage of HIV-1 Entry Depends on Virus-Induced Cell Surface Exposure of Phosphatidylserine. Cell Host Microbe. 2017;22(1):99-110.e7.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Thursday, October 31, 2019